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Warracknabeal Energy Park Delay – Victorian Renewable Energy Target at Risk

18 September 2023

In another setback for the renewable energy sector, excessive government requirements will delay development of Warracknabeal Energy Park by up to two years. When operational, the Energy Park will deliver up to 11% of Victoria’s needs.

The supply of clean energy for more than 1.1 million Victorian homes will be set back by up to two years due to excessive government requirements set for Warracknabeal Energy Park.

Earlier this month, Victorian Planning Minister Sonya Kilkenny wrote to project developer, WestWind Energy, requiring an Environment Effects Statement (EES) for the proposed wind farm. Under the Environment Effects Act 1978, the Minister had an option to determine a lengthy EES was not required given the minimal environmental impacts of the project.

This decision is another setback for the renewable energy sector at a time when the Victorian Government should be seeking to expedite renewable projects. Adding two years to the project approvals process puts at risk industry’s ability to invest to meet Victoria’s ambitious renewable energy targets.

Once operational, the Warracknabeal Energy Park will deliver up to 11% of Victoria’s energy needs. The current planning process is at odds with the Andrews Government’s renewable energy commitments. Victoria is now the most difficult jurisdiction in Australia to secure planning approvals for onshore wind.

WestWind’s Managing Director, Tobi Geiger, stated, “We understand the need for an EES process when it is appropriate. Over the past several years, we have worked very constructively with the local Warracknabeal community and have undertaken comprehensive environmental assessments to support the environmental referral. We have a supportive community and have confirmed there are minimal environmental impacts of the project.”

“In our view, the project and its impacts could have been assessed under Victoria’s existing and already quite rigorous planning and permitting process for wind energy facilities. I think it is understandable that we were very disappointed to receive the Minister’s decision.”

WestWind Energy is the largest wind farm developer by MWs in Victoria. WestWind began work on the Warracknabeal Energy Park project in 2017 and proposes to establish up to 206 wind turbines with battery storage. The clean energy produced by the project would provide enough electricity to power 1.1 million Victorian homes. It will assist in reducing carbon emissions by more than 4.2 million tonnes a year.

“The delay to the project caused by the EES process will not only hold up delivery of much-needed clean energy supplies and effectively extend our reliance on coal fired generation, it will also set back sharing the financial benefits with the local community,” said Mr Geiger.

“We have already established great relationships with landholders and the community in Warracknabeal. Our local office is set up and we’ve attended community events and sponsored local groups. We enjoy sharing the benefits of our projects with the local community.”

“Once this wind farm is operating, landholders and near neighbours stand to receive an annual payment, and a community fund of approximately $400,000 per year will be established to share the financial benefits of the project with the wider community.”

For more information on WestWind Energy or the Warracknabeal Energy Park, visit w-wind.com.au.

About WestWind Energy

WestWind Energy Pty Ltd is an Australian wind farm developer that was established in 2004 and has a proven track record of developing successful renewable energy projects. These include Mt Mercer Wind Farm, Moorabool Wind Farm, Lal Lal Wind Farm and Golden Plains Wind Farm. Golden Plains is currently under construction. When complete, it will become Australia’s largest wind farm.

Westwind Energy’s current development pipeline includes 12 wind farm projects across Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. These will include more than 1,000 wind turbines, totalling almost 9GW of generating capacity.